Wednesday 16 October 2019

Staff wary amid progress in DAA profit-share talks

Employees fear deal could follow template of cut-price proposal at Aer Lingus, writes Fearghal O'Connor

The DAA manages Dublin and Cork airports
The DAA manages Dublin and Cork airports

Negotiations around a proposed profit-share scheme at DAA are understood to have made progress but staff fear they could be offered a similar deal to that proposed recently for Aer Lingus staff seeking a similar scheme, according to well-informed sources.

The Labour Court in January recommended that instead of a fully fledged profit share scheme Aer Lingus should offer staff a once-off pay rise of 1pc, as well as a €300 voucher.

That proposal is due to be balloted upon by staff at the airline and the vote is likely to come as DAA management and trade unions attempt to hammer out a profit-share deal of their own.

As part of DAA's 2010 Cost Recovery Programme deal, airport authority workers took pay cuts and saw bonuses worth as much as €1,400 per year axed in return for a promise of pay restoration in the future - as well as the creation of a profit-sharing scheme.

Workers at the airport authority were last year granted an 8.5pc pay rise over four years.

Talks around the profit share have been drawn out but are understood to have reconvened in recent weeks with some progress made between the sides. When contacted for details, a DAA spokesman declined to comment.

One sticking point is understood to be the issue of retrospective pay, which if implemented back to 2010 could be substantial and could mean lump sums of up to €10,000 per staff member.

Sources at the airport now believe that the precedent set by the recent Aer Lingus Labour Court recommendation could ultimately be used by airport management as a template for dealing with its own profit share issues.

"There is a fear amongst staff that they will try and mirror what is happening in Aer Lingus," said one well-informed source.

Profit-share schemes pay out as much as 5pc of a company's profits every year and workers at both aviation companies originally held out hopes of winning agreement for amounts approaching that figure, said the source.

In the case of Aer Lingus - based on last week's bumper profits announcement - that would have delivered a windfall to staff of as much as €15m this year alone, or, on average, more than €5,500 per staff member.

But the 1pc pay rise now recommended by the Labour Court "in full and final settlement of the Trade Union claim for the development of a 'profit-share' scheme" would, based on its most recent wage bill, cost the airline €2.6m, or about €1,000 per staff member, plus a €300 voucher.

Critics of the Aer Lingus approach argue that low-paid staff lose out when a percentage pay rise is used instead of the payment of an equal profit share slice for each staff member.

"It's not a profit share," said an airport source about the Aer Lingus proposal by the Labour Court.

"It's a payment to compensate staff for getting rid of the issue of profit share. It remains to be seen whether DAA will go the same route or not."

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